Meet the 2022-2023 Trainees

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Adalberto Ubinas

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Adalberto UbinasDepartment: Biology
Mentor: Jennifer Rudgers, PhD
Interests: Physiological Ecology


Adalberto Ubiñas Romero was born in Puerto Rico. At an early age, he developed an interest in STEM, specifically in the biological sciences. When Ubiñas became an open water diver, it sparked his curiosity about invertebrate communities and research.

After Ubiñas completed high school at Colegio La Merced, he attended the University of Puerto Rico, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in coastal marine biology. As an undergraduate, Adalberto worked with Dr. Steven Sloan and Dr. Ariel Diaz, studying the invertebrate and fungal communities associated with Plumeria alba in the Guánica dry forest in Puerto Rico. He also participated in several Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs, including the Blandy Experimental Farm at the University of Virginia, the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Oceanography (SURFO) at the University of Rhode Island, and the Organization for Tropical Studies Research in Costa Rica.

Ubiñas's professional career started in Spain, where he obtained a pilot and remotely operated vehicle technician license; later, he worked with the EcoExploratorio Science Museum of Puerto Rico as a tour guide and educator. Currently, Ubiñas is studying climate change-related dynamics in pollinators at the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program in New Mexico.

Andreanna Roros

M.S. Student

Photo: Andreanna RorosDepartment: Earth & Planetary Sciences
Mentor: Adrian Brearley, PhD and Laura Crossey, PhD
Interests: Geochemistry/Petrology/Mineralogy


Andreanna Roros primarily grew up in Severna Park, Maryland, but credits her geology interest with her experiences living in Idaho. She became interested in the natural landscape, preservation, and earth sciences after being exposed to many museums and National Parks, especially Yellowstone.

She attended the University of Delaware, where she researched how deicing practices have led to an increase in radium at Best Management Practices (BMPs) throughout Delaware, causing a rise in groundwater contamination. She also participated in four different field camp programs, one that included studying the geological landscape of New Mexico. In addition, Roros took many museum studies courses and worked at three campus museums, including the Mineralogical Museum, Mechanical Hall Gallery, and Old College Gallery. She also interned at the Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD), where she researched threatened buildings in Delaware and created GIS-related maps. Roros graduated with a B.S. in Geological Sciences, a minor in Coastal and Marine Geoscience, and received a graduate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Roros' research has primarily focused on groundwater contamination and radiogenic isotopes. She had internships with the Delaware Geological Survey and received a research grant from USGS through the Water Resource Center at the University of Delaware. Currently, Roros is excited to work with Dr. Adrian Brearley to learn more about air contamination, mineralogy, and particulate matter at the Laguna Pueblo Superfund Site. In addition, she will be working alongside other UNM departments, such as the school of engineering, and health sciences, to better understand how Uranium has negatively impacted Native Americans' lives in proximity to the Jackpile Mine.

Danielle Land

M.S. Student

Photo: Danielle LandDepartment: Biology
Mentor: Joseph Cook, PhD
Interests: Conservation Biology


Danielle Land is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her love for the natural world began as a child by visiting the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS) and spending time outdoors. Her desire to learn more about science lead her to obtain a B.S. degree in Biology with minors in chemistry and philosophy at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Following graduation, Land volunteered in the Division of Mammals at the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology. Then, wanting to continue in the field of biology, she worked as a post-baccalaureate student (NSF REPS) in Dr. Joe Cook’s lab to acquire laboratory and field experience. There she examined the evolutionary history of Eurasian shrews in the Sorex caecutiens group in collaboration with Dr. Jason Malaney at NMMNHS.

While working on her master’s degree, Land will continue to work with the Cook Lab and the Museum of Southwestern Biology to take a more detailed look into Eurasian shrew phylogenetics using museum-loaned tissue samples. Through the MRT program, Land hopes to gain a more interdisciplinary understanding of museum infrastructure and continue to be an advocate for building and preserving collections.

David Giovannetti-Nazario

Ph.D. Student

Photo: David Giovannetti-NazarioDepartment: Earth & Planetary Sciences
Mentor: Tyler Mackey, PhD
Interests: Sedimentology/Stratigraphy/Paleoclimate/Paleontology


David Giovannetti was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Ever since he was a child, he was always fascinated by books, comics, films, and TV and the stories they told. Later he realized that studying science is essentially asking big questions to tell a compelling story that would help us understand our world.

Giovannetti attended the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and majored in English (linguistics). Having taken an introductory geology course as an elective, he immediately fell in love with geosciences and chose it as a second major. In his final year as an undergraduate, Giovannetti studied massive magnetite deposits in an iron skarn as part of a research project. In continuation with his undergraduate project, he began his graduate studies in 2020 focusing on garnet chemistry and studying skarn formation processes.

Giovannetti's interests lie in various geology subfields focusing mainly on using the geochemistry and geochronology of mineral and rock samples to understand how geologic systems and deposits form and evolve throughout time.

Giovannetti's research will use petrography, geochemistry, and geochronology to understand paleolake deposits in Antarctica. Additionally, outcrop-scale observations will help identify these deposits' diagnostic features, aiding the Mars rover missions in identifying similar deposits on the Red Planet.

Erin Berkowitz

M.S. Student

Photo: Erin BerkowitzDepartment: Museum Studies
Mentor: Hannah Marx, PhD and Loa Traxler, PhD
Interests: Biology


Erin Berkowitz grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family regularly visited the Cleveland Metroparks, which sparked her interest in the natural world.  Berkowitz attended Ursuline College, a private liberal arts school where she took ecology and genetics courses that inspired her interest in the natural sciences. She graduated with a bachelor’s in biology and life sciences. Because Museums were a substantial part of her upbringing, Berkowits decided to volunteer at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and then with the Division of Natural Resources at the Cleveland Metroparks, where she would complete two field seasons working on the Plant Community Assessment Program (PCAP).

As an intern at the Conservation and Land Management, Berkowitz worked on the Seeds of Success (SOS) program, where she became familiarized with the flora of the Great Basin region and gained field experience in proper plant collection. In addition, she was a curatorial intern at Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware. As a herbarium workroom manager/curatorial assistant at the herbarium at California Botanic Garden, she gained experience with specimen processing, mounting, digitizing, and filing.

Berkowitz has presented at two conferences for the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) on various topics related to her work at CalBG (2019 & 2022). She is a member of SPNHC and Southern California Botanists (SCB) and is the professional development officer for the Early Career Section of the Society of Herbarium Curators.

Currently, Berkowitz is developing a thesis project incorporating data from historical plant specimens and recent collections to answer scientific questions under the mentorship of Herbarium curator Dr. Hannah Marx and senior collections manager Harpo Faust from the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology.

Lisa Garcia

M.S. Student

Photo: Lisa GarciaDepartment: Biology
Mentor: Felisa Smith, PhD and Scott Collins, PhD
Interests: Conservation Biology


Lisa Garcia was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has many fond memories of exploring her grandparents’ land in Carnuel and Chilili and taking care of the animals on their ranch. Nature was her playground, and she developed a passion for the land, plants, and animals.

Fresh out of high school, Garcia didn’t know about the opportunities in science. She is a first-generation college student; her mom suggested business because she was in that industry. So, Garcia earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of New Mexico (UNM) and pursued a career in marketing. She returned to UNM to pursue a second degree in biology because of her strong passion for nature. After watching Vice, a show about global catastrophes worldwide, she became interested in the effects of climate change.

Garcia was interested in paleoecology and extant plant interactions with water. She volunteered in Dr. FeGarcia Smith’s paleoecology lab at UNM to understand how organisms reacted to past climate change and to better predict how organisms may respond to future climate change. Garcia also completed a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at UC Berkeley with Benjamin Blonder, where she developed an investigation on how different leaf venation systems reacted to herbivory and drought. She presented a poster about this investigation at the 2022 ESA conference in Montreal. Currently, Garcia is exploring areas to pursue in her graduate program.

Louisa “Lou” Lara

Ph.D. Student

Photo: Louisa “Lou” LaraDepartment: Anthropology
Mentor: Loa Traxler, PhD
Interests: Archaeology


Louisa "Lou" Lara was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and grew up in a Mexican- American immigrant household. She is passionate about her Mexican heritage, culture, museums, and anthropology.

Lara attended Indiana State University and majored in anthropology and history. During her undergraduate studies, she gained a new perspective and appreciation of museum studies and collections. She began working with Dr. Alex Badillo's photogrammetry laboratory, working on various projects, including 3D modeling and reconstruction of local tombstones in Indiana, prehistoric pottery at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, biological specimens at the Indiana State University biology laboratory, and aiding in the painting of a Zapotec digital replica of Monte Alban, Oaxaca. Lara also attended field school at the Center of American Anthropology under the direction of Dr. Jason King and learned valuable field and lab work lessons. In addition, Lara became very interested in museum curatorial and public work while working at the Terre Haute Children's Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, and the Kohl Children's Museum in Glenview, Illinois. 

Lara is currently completing the master's portion of her PhD coursework under the advisement of Dr. Loa Traxler. Her research will focus on Mesoamerican archaeology within Maya cultural aesthetics and color theory.

Nikolitsa "Litsa" Wooten

M.S. Student

Photo: Nikolitsa "Litsa" WootenDepartment: Museum Studies
Mentor: Joseph Cook, PhD and Loa Traxler, PhD
Interests: Biology


Litsa Wooten’s mother is Greek and joined the US Army, where she met Litsa’s father. Her family lived in Germany, Qatar, England, and Greece. Litsa attended Pinewood International American School in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Litsa started her undergraduate studies at Kansas State University (KSU) with a major in Animal Science and Industries (ASI) and a focus on Pre-Vet. She later changed her major to Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology with a minor in ASI. During her sophomore year, Litsa began working in a mammal research lab at KSU. As an undergraduate, she assisted master’s students with their research on the phylogeography of mammals of the Great Plains and went on mammal collection field trips to Manitoba, South Dakota, Texas, and Minnesota. Her work in this lab piqued her interest in managing museum mammal collections.

After graduating, Litsa took a gap year and worked at the Comparative Medicine Group at KSU Vet-Med. There she learned how to care for various laboratory animals used for medical research. Then she started working at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at KSU Vet-Med to gain experience with Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and learn how to accession things into a database in preparation for her Museum Studies degree.

Litsa is working in the mammal collection under the advisement of Dr. Joe Cook with the UNM Museum of Southwestern Biology (MSB), investigating pathogens in mammals.

Samantha “Sami” Stroud

M.S. Student

Photo: Samantha “Sami” StroudDepartment: Geography
Mentor: Ronda Brulotte, PhD
Interests: Environmental Studies


Samantha "Sami" Stroud was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has lived there for most of her life. She found her love for plants of the Southwest by exploring the Sandia Mountains with her father and through her mother's family lineage of curanderismo (Mexican folk healing).

Stroud attended college as an Honors student at Arizona State University (ASU), double majoring in Japanese and Chinese Language and Literature. While at ASU, she spent a summer abroad in Hiroshima, Japan, studying the Japanese language and culture at Hiroshima Shudo University. After two years at ASU, Stroud returned to her hometown of Albuquerque to study at the University of New Mexico (UNM). She spent an additional semester abroad studying Chinese at Xibei University in Xi'an, China. She obtained a dual degree in Geography and East Asian Studies (Chinese concentration), with minors in Interdisciplinary Honors and Japanese

As an undergraduate, she participated in an Honors Research Institute, conducting archival research on Hispanic Historic Sites in New Mexico. She has also worked at the Southwest Environmental Finance Center, where she authored a white paper comparing tap and bottled water resources in the state of New Mexico and is currently collaborating on a comprehensive guide to the Clean Water and Drinking Water Act State Revolving Funds.

Stroud is a second-year Masters student in the department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the UNM. Her research focuses on shifting epistemologies and pedagogies of herbal medicine in New Mexico. She also has broad interests in human-plant relationships and more-than-human geographies.